Everything has an optimal quantity. Too much, and the marginal costs diminish the marginal benefits. Too little, and there is benefit left to be attained. A question I’ve asked ever since my 10th grade Honors Biology teacher introduced me to it is: How much is enough?
As I was in my weekly Monday morning swim session today, I was tempted to swim an extra 500 yards in my main set. What was going to be 5x200s became a 100 and 2x200s. The marginal benefit of 500 more yards was simply not worth the marginal cost of the fatigue. I was unusually tired this morning, and determined that it would be best to save my energy. I wasn’t too happy to do a ‘normal’ workout, but I didn’t feel the need to push myself beyond the optimal quantity. While my drive to always improve has been a blessing for forwarding my life, it’s also a burden because it’s really disappointing when I don’t make tangible progress.
The same balancing decision goes for many other aspects of my life, most of which are substantially more complex than a swimming workout. How many extracurricular activities is enough? How many hours of studying is enough? How much sleep is enough? Everyday, we face hundreds (if not thousands) of decisions regarding the quantities we want to input. Instead of blindly accepting one, my challenge has become optimizing marginal benefit and marginal cost. One of the biggest challenging is determining/measuring benefit and cost. It’s impossible to precisely determine them, but I feel that I’m better off attempting to as opposed to not even trying.
My life’s balance certainly isn’t perfect, but I’m driven to perfect it.